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Old 03-17-2016, 06:13 PM   #1
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Hurricane plans

My wife and I just bought a 52' trawler and live in Pensacola, FL. The insurance company would like a hurricane plan and I would appreciate your input on the options. We live on a relatively protected bayou but only 4 miles or so as the crow flies from the gulf. If we have a hurricane my wife will be at the hospital where she works and I will have to evacuate (our house has only 8' of elevation). I figure we have three options for the boat:

1) With a couple friends, I take the boat north up the Ten-Tom as far as I can leaving several days before the projected impact and then securing the boat when bad weather makes it that far north. I like this option because it will get the boat, me, and cats off the coast and hopefully preserve the boat so we can live on it after the house is likely destroyed.

2) Have a local marina pull the boat. We don't have hurricane rated facilities that I'm aware of but the local facilities do have hurricane plans to haul boats. I'm not crazy about this because it leaves the boat on the coast. To me this is still risky as the boat could fall or be caught in storm surge (depending on elevation), and the marinas I've called have waiting lists.

3) If the storm isn't projected to be too bad, leave the boat in its mooring at our house carefully prepared for storm surge and high winds. For a small tropical storm I could see this working. In the case of another hurricane Ivan the boat would probably be pushed through our house...

For those of you that need hurricane plans, what do you plan on doing? Any suggestions? Thanks
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Old 03-17-2016, 06:29 PM   #2
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I like member BandB's philosophy.

Give the bare minimum as a plan that they will accept..

Like..."I'll take care of it"....well OK maybe more than that.

I will let him explain it a lot better but I think his tack is to not give them something they can hang on YOU!!!!

If he doesn't respond to this thread...shoot him a PM.

There are others here with a lot of experience and good ideas....Larry on Hobo lives year round in Fl and has cruised the area for awhile...I can list all but some will give great info...but my advice is lean the way of BandB and the "less is best" approach.
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:08 PM   #3
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For a normal storm, I strip the boat of external canvas, put on two storm pendants and leave it on my mooring unless the storm is predicted to have a significant easterly component. In that case I do the above and then move the boat to a harbor (one of three withing 6 miles) that has good protection from the east. If the storm was forecast to be REALLY bad I would have the boat hauled (there are six yards within 5 miles to choose from).

A few years ago my boat rode out a cat I on my mooring with zero damage. That storm passed west of us which meant out only strong winds were from the south. I have about 100 yards fetch to the south.
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:12 PM   #4
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I would plan on going up the Tenn Tom at least through the first lock. Then there will be no storm surge. Plan two being hauled out is questionable. I was in and on the hard at Pensacola Ship Yard (Bayou Chico) a few years ago as a storm approached. They asked if I would like to remain on the hard and I looked around, piles of wood, a metal scrap loading facility next door and tons of sheet metal laying around. I went back in the water and ran westward.
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:17 PM   #5
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Note that they require a plan. Give them a plan but make it clear you're not committing to doing any of it. We've presented alternatives that we might consider. However, our plan reads something like this.

Here are options we might consider in the event of a forecast hurricane.

Where it is normally docked there has not been serious hurricane damage in xx years.

We may consider running it to a marina up New River.

If we were in the NC area, we may consider having it pulled out by Jarrett Bay.

If we know in time and have the time ourselves we may consider running it outside the projected hurricane path.

If we are outside the projected hurricane area we may consider leaving it there.

If leaving it tied where it is, we may try to protect it more by ......

But our priorities will always be with life and safety over protecting the boat and while we recognize various possible hurricane measures that can be taken we may not take any of them. Also, we might take action intended to avoid a hurricane but that actually lead to damage being suffered that would not have been had we done nothing.

Now our plan is more formal than that, includes even some diagrams of areas and hurricane history. However, it simply presents options that we may or may not consider and makes it clear we may well do nothing.

The reality is that our major hurricane plan is to get ourselves to safety.

Now, despite the fact we live in Fort Lauderdale, we are not in a major hurricane area. Our house is no longer even classified in the higher flood zone. Where we keep out boat is probably the most protected place it could be. And, if it gets destroyed by a hurricane, then that's why we have the insurance.

Insurers are wanting plans and don't even grasp the comparative risks. Run north they say. Perhaps they aren't aware of Sandy. I love to hear them say the people there should have taken steps, because I really am not aware of any safe steps they could have taken. Certainly not based on the time they got from US forecasts. (European model was on target sooner).

I will say too that we did have our plan reviewed by out attorney before providing it to them. Frankly, I don't know if the insurer ever read it. They just thanked us for sending it and checked it off their list.
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:18 PM   #6
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As PSneeld implied, there are really two questions. The first is what you want to do in case of a hurricane to protect you and your boat. The second is what to tell the insurance company.

They are different for this reason.... If you give the insurance company a plan and for some reason you can't or don't follow it, then the insurance company has grounds for NOT paying out a claim. What if you can't get up coast, what if you can't haul the boat, what if you are sick, injured, out of the country etc... and can't do all that you want? For this reason, give the Insurance company the most basic, simple plan that they will accept. Then if a hurricane occurs and you do even more than the plan to protect your boat, then they don't have a good reason for not paying out the claim.

The second question is what should you do to protect your boat. You should draw up some very specific plans and alternatives for yourself. Maybe this includes removing the Bimini. However if that was included in the plan for the insurance company, and you don't remove the Bimini, then if it is destroyed, they have a good reason to not pay for it.

That make any sense?
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:22 PM   #7
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Everyone keep in mind though that you have no idea what the real circumstances will be. I have a friend who had a boat in Miami when Andrew struck. She lived in an evacuation zone. Her husband was out of the area on business. All she did was loaded her kids up in the car and got out of there. She didn't even go check the lines on her boat. I think her priorities were right.

Just be sure you don't leave an opening for them to refuse a claim because you didn't follow your hurricane plan. Disclaimers rule the day.
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:26 PM   #8
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We had our boat on the North Carolina coast for a few years. We have a large boat yard here, Jarett Bay, that has an outstanding haul out program for named storms, that you pay an annual upfront "protection money" fee to belong to. I won't go into all the details but it was really complete and well managed. They blocked the boats up the right way too. Whether there is an equivalent where you are I wouldn't know. Many other yards had similar programs but nowhere as complete. Hauling out is very popular in these parts. I was glad we did it with JB, the three times we had to use it were a great relief, and one included a direct hit by a smaller storm. I always figured, well the worst that could happen is we'd be in the middle of one of the, if not the, biggest marine industrial parks and associated yards on the east coast.

In our case the insurance company paid half of the actual haul out costs.
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:36 PM   #9
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I just did this last month.

My statement:

What arrangements have you made for the safety of your vessel(s) in the event of a Named Storm, hurricane, cyclone or typhoon warning? (Please be as informative as possible).

The boat will be kept at our own fixed dock at our residence. The water level is constant controlled by a lock. The dock is 53’4”, matching the boat. See photos attached (dock with previous boat).

Dock has large galvanized cleats fixed through the concrete. There are also cleats on the inside of the dock. The boat will be double lined to the dock. If needs be, posts may be driven into the back yard (<30 feet from the outside of the dock), and additional lines fixed to the posts.

The boat will be protected by round boat fenders along her length, back up by standard straight fenders which are fixed to the dock itself.

All canvas will be removed and stored inside the home, along with cushions and other loose fittings. Aerials will be lowered and tied to the deck.

If deemed necessary, the vessel is equipped with dual anchors which can be deployed into the lagoon from both bow and stern using the RIB. See photo attached.



What alternative plans have you made for your vessel if your initial plan becomes unlikely?

Since the boat is kept at our own dock at our house there are no expectations that our initial plan will be unavailable.
However there are two boat yards within 20 minutes of our location (Palm Cove Marina, and Beach Marine) with haul out facilities.
Additionally we are right by the ICW and 10 minutes from the St Johns. The boat can be taken north into Georgia/South Carolina with enough notice (and unavailability of our initial plan), or down the St John’s toward Green Cove Springs and Palatka with narrow reaches and more inland. She can be double anchored with chain.
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
We had our boat on the North Carolina coast for a few years. We have a large boat yard here, Jarett Bay, that has an outstanding haul out program for named storms, that you pay an annual upfront "protection money" fee to belong to. I won't go into all the details but it was really complete and well managed. They blocked the boats up the right way too. Whether there is an equivalent where you are I wouldn't know. Many other yards had similar programs but nowhere as complete. Hauling out is very popular in these parts. I was glad we did it with JB, the three times we had to use it were a great relief, and one included a direct hit by a smaller storm. I always figured, well the worst that could happen is we'd be in the middle of one of the, if not the, biggest marine industrial parks and associated yards on the east coast.

In our case the insurance company paid half of the actual haul out costs.
Jarrett Bay has the best plan of any I'm aware of. The second best is Bennett Brothers in Wilmington. Hurricane plans and marinas in South Florida do not generally involve hauling the boat. Just some marinas feel more protected than others.
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:59 PM   #11
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Everyone keep in mind though that you have no idea what the real circumstances will be. I have a friend who had a boat in Miami when Andrew struck. She lived in an evacuation zone. Her husband was out of the area on business. All she did was loaded her kids up in the car and got out of there. She didn't even go check the lines on her boat. I think her priorities were right.

Just be sure you don't leave an opening for them to refuse a claim because you didn't follow your hurricane plan. Disclaimers rule the day.
Safety first...but the whole concept of a plan is ultimately to protect the boat...the insurance company isn't insuring the people in this case (to a point).

My friends in the insurance business expressed that the "insurance will cover it attitude" since the early 90's is why the faster than normal rise in many yacht insurance policies since back then. No one is doing much to protect their boats any more.

Maybe an insider in the business can clarify...just passing what was told and made sense to me.
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:37 PM   #12
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The that's what I carry the insurance for comment was more flippant than I really am.

I think it's not necessarily that attitude as much as it's a series of storms hitting an area that was totally surprised by them. Sandy was devastating in marine insurance and none of those boats were or are today, to my knowledge, required to have a hurricane plan.

Rest assured we will take every precaution we can. We don't want to lose a boat or what is on it. However, we are not going to commit in writing to following any plan.

There are way too many variables. What happens if you're 1500 miles away from home and the storm is rapidly approaching your home?

As to marina docks, properly built floating docks are much more protected than fixed docks.

The question as I read it, and answered it, was not what I'd try to do in the event of a hurricane, but what I'm willing to put in an insurance hurricane plan.

Reading what others are writing scares me a bit. If you're not putting disclaimers in then aren't you worried about the claim being denied because you didn't follow the plan?

We've walked through many scenarios and who would do what and when. Unfortunately, there are a huge number of variables. How much do you depend on the forecast? If it's projecting a hurricane hitting Fort Lauderdale area in 3 days and missing Jacksonville, do I run the boat to Jacksonville on that hope or secure it better in Fort Lauderdale? Do you have time to take care of your boat and your home? Which is the priority? Are you staying in your home through the storm? Where is the rest of your family?

The reality too is that for any hurricane, except the one in 1947, that has hit Fort Lauderdale in the last 100 years, our boats are about as safe as they can be where they are regularly kept. That being said then I'm not going to get on the water moving one unless I have very strong reasons to do so. The one hurricane that is an exception had 11' storm surge even on the New River. So, we have some steps in mind to protect against such a surge.
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:45 PM   #13
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Safety first...but the whole concept of a plan is ultimately to protect the boat...the insurance company isn't insuring the people in this case (to a point).
I can't put together and guarantee I'll follow a plan that protects the boats while at the same time I'm protecting my home and my family. I can list the circumstances today and the things I would consider in the event of a forecast. I'm not promising though that which I can't be sure I can deliver.

My plan doesn't look all that much different than others except for the fact it makes it clear that I may not follow any of the options in the plan. Mine also does not use words like "will do" but more like "may consider."

The person I referred to who ignored her boat was dealing with a husband out of town and two young children, one of whom had a birth defect. There was only enough of her to go around to take care of them. She said that honestly the thought of leaving her kids and running to the boat to check it never crossed her mind. As it turns out, it wouldn't have accomplished anything either as her boat wasn't damaged by storm surge, but by winds.
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Old 03-18-2016, 09:04 AM   #14
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Here's a copy of our hurricane plan that we have submitted and has been accepted by several insurance underwriters.


Hurricane Plan for the m/v Hobo

Larry ..../Lena ....
August 20XX


If we are in an area that is prone to hurricanes or cyclones:

We obtain our weather information from NOAA, Buoyweather (a fee subscription weather service), and local sources. NOAA and Buoyweather data are accessed daily using the SSB radio and pactor modem or via the internet. (We have email on the vessel.) We also obtain local forecasts daily via various cruiser SSB nets. We plot storm tracks onto onionskin overlays on local charts.

If we are unable to run and/or avoid a storm, vessel preparations would vary with location and would include (in order of preference): 1) Haul out in a secure boat yard and remove all exterior canvas and attachments. 2) Go far up a river and secure the boat with anchors and lines to shore. 3) Secure the boat in the most protected harbor or marina we can find.
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Old 03-18-2016, 09:35 AM   #15
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I suggest asking the insurance company to be more specific about the requested hurricane plan. Surely they have asked the same of other customers.

My marina requires a hurricane plan. The options are:

1) They haul and block the boat (for a fee).

2) Get the boat out of the marina. It doesn't matter to us where you take it but you can't leave it here.
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Old 03-18-2016, 09:51 AM   #16
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Interesting timing as I just yesterday submitted a hurricane plan to my insurer. I basically said that I would double line the boat and remove external cushions. That's it. I committed to nothing more. Since the dock master at our yacht club would double line the boat if I was not available, I don't see this as much of a commitment. As for the cushions, they need replacement anyway.
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Old 03-18-2016, 10:23 AM   #17
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Panhandler, we are just down the ICW from you in Niceville on Boggy Bayou. We are facing the same thing. I have in previous years had her pulled with a local marina. It was not the safest marina but I found I could feel a little more at ease with her in the marina feeling damage to her and others would be minimized. My biggest concern is the liability, not so much the damage to my vessel. If our 52 Jefferson breaks loose at anchor or at dock it could do a lot of damage. I assume that I would be responsible for this??? The marina that we have been using was sold and now the rate for this has gone up by 500%. I can't afford that so I am looking also. To your question what we told our insurance was we plan to have the boat pulled but if it not available then we would tie it in our slip with multiple lines. I provided a drawing of how those lines would attach and also provided detail on removing canvas etc. Let me know what you decide. I also have considered running up the TB but that is a long run for us. Take 2 days at least. Have you checked with Turner Marine?
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Old 03-18-2016, 10:35 AM   #18
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Up here in New England, it's common practice to haul and block your boat if an anticipated hurricane direct hit is in the works. Your insurance policy may have specifics regarding "named storms". My policies have always stated that in any named storm you need to haul or move the boat to a more protected area. I hang on a boat yard maintained mooring (500# Dor Mor, chain inspected and replaced periodically, double 1" poly pendants). The boat has ridden out tropical storms and indirect Cat 1 hurricanes. If I'm concerned about a weak or near miss storm, I can move to marina slips up a couple of local rivers (Thames, Mystic, or Pawcatuck), and I've done that on a couple of occasions. Generally speaking though, I haul. The insurance company will pay half the cost to haul for a named storm. Unfortunately, hauling may not keep your boat safe in a massive Cat 2-5 hurricane. I hauled for Sandy. The boat was sitting on jack stands, and the storm surge came within inches of floating some of the boats off their stands.
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Old 03-18-2016, 10:36 AM   #19
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Interesting timing as I just yesterday submitted a hurricane plan to my insurer. I basically said that I would double line the boat and remove external cushions. That's it. I committed to nothing more. Since the dock master at our yacht club would double line the boat if I was not available, I don't see this as much of a commitment. As for the cushions, they need replacement anyway.
Unless yours is the one boat missed for some reason. However, it's easy enough for you to make it clear with one sentence that it's your plan, just no guarantees. Interesting word "plan". The way I define "plan" it isn't a commitment. I use the Webster definition of "a set of actions that have been thought of as a way to do or achieve something." I don't use it as "a detailed agreement". It may seem like semantics. However, insurers go to great depths to define the words they use. I'm just suggesting we define those we use in the document we submit.

Perhaps something like this.

Hurricane plan: This consists of various actions that we have thought of as ways of proceeding in the event of an impending hurricane to attempt to protect the boat. However, they are not a commitment nor an agreement that we will, in fact, do all or any of them. That decision is at our sole discretion for any or whatever reason and not subject to use as a denial or reduction of claim. We assume no liability for carrying out the plan or failure to do so.
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Old 03-18-2016, 11:37 AM   #20
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I've only scanned this thread, but I encourage anyone to put the whole issue of being coy with the insurance company aside, and having a practical Plan A and plan B that you can really execute. Hurricanes do not adhere to everyone's life schedule. You can be traveling (as happened to me once), you could be ill or incapacitated, or have other obligations. The boat could be having work done on the propulsion system. The storm doesn't care about this and it doesn't care what some humans and their computers have predicted its course and strength will be.

And of course, boats have different value and meaning to different people. For a couple of storms, our boat was still our only home. Changes the "plan" a bit.

There are some interesting and useful storm surge predictors the government has put together which are worth using in your planning. Don't have the link off hand.
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